Despite 80% support from the Select Board and 60% of Town Meeting members, Form Based Zoning in North Amherst village center and Atkins Corner in deep South Amherst failed to clear the high hurdle of a two thirds vote, going down to defeat after 2.5 hours of discussion with 119 yes votes and 79 no.
The majority of the discussion centered on North Amherst where Town Meeting was told by two speakers that over 100 "residents of Montague Road" had signed a petition opposing the article (turns out to be more like a dozen actual residents), but Atkins Corner in South Amherst also drew criticism because the two new roundabouts are not yet functioning and the noise from the Norwottuck Gun Club was portrayed as a major detriment to health and safety.
Unfortunately the cumulative effect of having two large separate areas involved--each with its own set of NIMBYs--doomed the ambitious undertaking. Perhaps if someone had divided the motion and let each village center be voted on separately one of them could have passed.
Overall, like the demise of the Gateway Project, the fear that increased density of development was not family friendly and would bring more student party houses to disrupt neighborhoods with late night noise, traffic, fighting, vandalism, unsightly trash and body fluids caused the defeat.
Maybe now town and UMass officials will get serious about controlling rowdy, alcohol fueled behavior of the tiny minority of students who are having such a detrimental impact on civility at large.
Atkins neighbor Seymour Epstein cited noise and pollution to a trout stream, calling the planning charrette a "charade"